Contract talks with the UAW are over for another four years for General Motors, Chrysler and Ford.
In this round of negotiations, there could be no strike against GM or Chrysler as one of the conditions of the government bailouts.
Even so, there was dissatisfaction by workers at all three companies; they didn't ratify the labor pacts by overwhelming margins. Workers approved the contracts, but the votes were surprisingly close. I had thought it would be a 90 percent majority voting in favor.
More and more, we are seeing a serious debate, sometimes civil and sometimes not, about class wealth and who deserves what.
One of the biggest contentions at Ford was CEO Alan Mulally's humongous compensation. But many believe he deserved every penny.
My guess is that no one at the UAW would agree with that assessment.
The debate will continue since Ford last week announced good profits and there are rumblings that the company may resume paying dividends to shareholders.
Who should get what in a healthy, profitable company like Ford? And how much is too much in terms of profits? It is a necessity to have plenty of profits not only to invest in new products but also to upgrade manufacturing facilities constantly.
Now would be a pretty good time to start the philosophical discussions about worker compensation, executive compensation and shareholder compensation. Somehow those subjects seem to be taboo most of the time.
I don't include automobile pricing because there is so much competition that companies have to price competitively. Ford is not the market leader so it cannot just set prices; it must react.
But now there is an opportunity to hear someone like Alan Mulally defend his compensation. It's not good enough to toss the blame on some anonymous compensation committee that no one ever sees or knows.
It's not much different from defending the use of private aircraft. If you can't defend it, chances are you shouldn't use it.
There are many very angry people who believe in some sort of socialistic economic system, but the automobile industry doesn't fit that mold at all, whether we're talking about suppliers, manufacturers or dealers.
Many folks are right on the brink of class warfare, and it's time to hear everyone in the automobile business defend capitalism.
It is a discussion worth having.